[R-SIG-Mac] help: R on Mac's is "buggy", department reconsidering

Matthew Keller mckellercran at gmail.com
Thu Jan 31 18:58:22 CET 2008

HI all,

Thanks for these suggestions. I will send out a note to my class and
ask them to document their configurations and their version as well as
what they were doing when/if crashes occur. I will also request that
all crashes are reported if possible (I'm not sure that sending a
report was possible when my crashes occurred but maybe my memory is

I am heartened to hear that others are not experiencing crashes. It
gives me hope that this will be solvable, and also makes me wonder if
we are doing something boneheaded (e.g., everyone in my class is using
the same RProfile.site file... maybe something screwy in there...
etc). More to come...


PS - as this thread has been building, so has a thread among the profs
here at CU about this issue. One prof claims no crashes, another says
it crashes every time they did a particular assignment...

On Jan 31, 2008 10:42 AM, William Revelle <lists at revelle.net> wrote:
> Matt,
>   In addition to the comments by Kasper and Max, may I add two points:
> 1) I am delighted that another psych department is pushing R for
> undergrads and grads.  I have been doing so here with limited success.
> I have been able to get undergrads in both my research methods class
> and a more advanced class getting comfortable with it and doing some
> basic analyses.  Some of our grad students are R converts as well.
> Among the faculty, however, it is much slower going.
> 2) Running R 2.6.1 with Mac 10.4+ or 10.5.1  on Intel and G4/G5s  and
> the Mac Gui I have almost no crashes of R.  Running 2.7.0
> (development, unstable) I have just a few.
> Make sure the students download 2.6.1 and packages that come with
> that configuration.
> Bill
> At 9:23 AM -0800 1/31/08, Kasper Daniel Hansen wrote:
> >Let me preempt Simon a bit and suggest that you give us very precise
> >information about what happens. Especially these days since "Mac"
> >actually covers 4 different architectures, several versions of the OS
> >and several compilers.
> >
> >So
> >1) Get a crash report and send it to Simon. If it is so easy to get R
> >to crash it should be easy to get a report.
> >2) What version of R and the GUI was installed and exactly on what
> >machine? How did you install packages? Which compiler was used
> >(include gcc version and build number)?
> >
> >Kasper
> >
> >On Jan 31, 2008, at 8:40 AM, Matthew Keller wrote:
> >
> >>  Hello all,
> >>
> >>  I dread writing this because it may come across as being ungrateful to
> >>  the hard work of those (esp. Simon Urbanek) who have made an otherwise
> >>  fantastic R interface for the mac. Nevertheless...
> >>
> >>  I do most of my work in R using Aquamacs and had, until recently,
> >>  little interaction with the R Gui. People in my department (psychology
> >>  at CU Boulder) are mainly mac users, and a few of us (including the
> >>  chair and the statistics professors) are making a push to make our
> >>  department an "R" department (such that it is the package taught to
> >>  undergrads and grad students). I have been teaching a four week intro
> >>  to the R language this semester to students, postdocs, and faculty,
> >>  and the undergrad stats professors have taken the leap and are
> >>  teaching R in the undergrad stats classes this semester. So far so
> >>  good... but...
> >>
> >>  There is beginning to be a backlash, not from what I had expected ("R
> >>  is too user unfriendly"... this doesn't seem to come up!), but rather
> >>  that R is "too buggy" and crashes too often. Since switching to the R
> >>  Gui to teach this class, I myself have had R crash several times
> >>  (previously a rare occurrence when I used Aquamacs). I cannot find a
> >>  rhyme or reason to when it happens. The students/colleagues in my
> >>  class who are mac users also complain about it (none of the windows
> >>  users have). And this morning, an email went out from one of the
> >>  undergrad stats teachers who said much the same thing (see his email
> >>  below).
> >>
> >>  Being one of the people who really pushed for this switch to R, I hate
> >>  to see it go down in flames because of this. I have considered trying
> >>  to teach using R via Aquamacs, but this presents its own set of
> >>  difficulties.
> >>
> >>  Does anyone out there who has experience with the R Gui for Macs have
> >>  any suggestions re making it more stable? Are there steps we can take
> >>  or advice we can give to students that would lessen the number of
> >>  crashes we are experiencing? Might the crashes be due to the newness
> >>  of the Leopard OS, etc?
> >>
> >>  I apologize for breaking the listserve rules - I have not given a good
> >>  explanation of the conditions under which these crashes occur. I could
> >>  try to get the students to document exactly when they happen and send
> >>  a summary back out to the list if this would be helpful.
> >>
> >>  I really want this (our department's switch to R) to go through, but I
> >>  am afraid the "bugginess of R" may be jeopardizing this. Any help
> >  > would be most appreciated. And as I said before, thank you to the
> >>  people who have selflessly spent their time making the R Gui - I
> >>  wouldn't even know where to start! Best,
> >>
> >>  Matt
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>  <message from an undergrad stats prof here at CU> :
> >>
> >>  In the labs for my course, the R GUI has been buggy - i.e. will
> >>  crash at
> >>  random times. I thought this had to do with using R Commander, but
> >>  after
> >>  looking into it further, it has nothing to do with R Commander -
> >>  when I
> >>  ran through some of the tutorial/homework for my course using the R
> >>  GUI
> >>  (rather than R Commander) the crashes were still there.  I also
> >>  thought
> >>  it might have to do with computing labs (perhaps installing ALL R
> >>  packages created the problem), but a quick survey in my course
> >>  suggested
> >>  that people's personal apple computers are experiencing the same
> >>  thing.
> >>  Greg and Matt Keller also mentioned to me that some of their students
> >>  were having issues with the R GUI on Mac OS X. As everyone knows,
> >>  there
> >>  are A LOT of Mac users in the undergrad student body.
> >>
> >>  As far as I can tell (after discussing with Matt Keller), it has
> >>  nothing
> >>  to do with the R "engine" - it's all about the R GUI interface (for
> >>  example, I've never had a problem submitting R jobs in pseudo-batch
> >>  mode).  I get slightly less buggy-ness on my Mac (intel dual-core,
> >>  Leopard), but there are still some issues.
> >>
> >>  Anyway, no real action items here other than to note that it
> >>  appears to
> >>  be fairly common. The students are tolerating it, and I just keep
> >>  telling them that it's "free" and "free" always comes at a price. If
> >>  anyone has stumbled a more stable configuration, please let me know!
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>  --
> >>  Matthew C Keller
> >>  Asst. Professor of Psychology
> >>  University of Colorado at Boulder
> >>  www.matthewckeller.com
> >>
> >>  _______________________________________________
> >>  R-SIG-Mac mailing list
> >>  R-SIG-Mac at stat.math.ethz.ch
> >>  https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-sig-mac
> >
> >_______________________________________________
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> --
> William Revelle         http://personality-project.org/revelle.html
> Professor                       http://personality-project.org/personality.html
> Department of Psychology             http://www.wcas.northwestern.edu/psych/
> Northwestern University http://www.northwestern.edu/
> Use R for statistics:                          http://personality-project.org/r

Matthew C Keller
Asst. Professor of Psychology
University of Colorado at Boulder

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